2014 Big South Co-Coach of the Year
Nichols begins his eighth season at the helm of the Blue Hose in 2016, one year removed from being named Big South Co-Coach of the Year in 2014.
Last season, the Blue Hose managed a 2-9 record with a number of close contests, as six games were decided by eight points or less. Despite the struggles, PC had five players named All-Big South, including four earning first-team honors. In addition, Ugonna Akoh was named a second team CoSIDA Academic All-American under the guidance of Nichols, the first such honor for a PC student-athlete in the program's Division I era.
Nichols led PC to a 6-5 record in 2014, the program’s first winning season since 2007 and its first-ever as a member of the Big South. He guided the Blue Hose to ranked wins over No. 12 Furman and No. 22 Charleston Southern and the team's two road wins stand as the most since three in 2007.
Against FCS competition, PC finished with a 5-2 record and its only two losses came to FCS playoff teams Coastal Carolina and Liberty. PC's defense set new school Division I records in nearly every category, including total offense yards (4163), opponent points scored (270), opponent touchdowns (36) and opponent total offense per game (378.5 yards). Those records come in a season that saw the Blue Hose play three FBS teams while PC allowed only 15.9 points and 310.0 total offense yards per game against FCS competition.
The Blue Hose also picked up seven Big South weekly awards under Nichols.
Nichols, a 1989 alumnus of PC, came back to the Blue Hose family on January 14, 2009, from Bucknell. Nichols served as the offensive coordinator and assistant coach since January 2008.
Under Nichols PC finished the 2011 season with its most overall wins since 2008. Its three Big South wins were the most since joining the Conference. The Blue Hose closed out the season with back-to-back wins, its first two-game win streak since 2008.
The Blue Hose went 4-1 at home in 2011 for their most wins at Bailey Memorial Stadium since a 4-2 mark in 2008.
Justin Bethel, who became the Big South all-time leader in blocked kicks, as well as solo tackles, was the first person drafted by the NFL under Nichols' watch. He went to the Arizona Cardinals in the sixth round.
In 2010 Nichols led his team to its first Big South win with the 26-24 victory over Gardner Webb and posted an overall record of 2-9. Four players earned honors with Jared Trandon Dendy, Derek Brown, Justin Bethel and Patrick Morgan picking up Big South All-Conference selections. Jared Tavernier was named to the ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District team. Several were selected Players-of the-Week this past season, including Brian Davis, Patrick Morgano, Cam Miller, Jimmy Pruitt and Ryan Singer.
In his first season, Nichols guided PC through its most difficult Division I schedule. Three of his student-athletes earned all-conference honors. Defensive standout Justin Bethel, in addition to wide receiver Patrick McKoy and long snapper Matt Quinn earned second-team accolades.
Under Nichols' watch, newcomers Lance Byrd and Patrick Morgano accounted for four Big South Conference Freshman of the Week honors. One such award for Byrd came on the heels of his school-record 274 rushing yards in his first career start.
In 2008, the Bison racked up 24.6 points per contest in Nichols' lone season with the squad. He helped guide the offense to a season-high 48 points in the season-opening victory over Duquesne, 48-42. In addition to his offensive coordinator duties, Nichols also coached the quarterbacks and running backs. Nichols coached all-conference selection Shawn Pasternak, who totaled a school-record 72 catches for 1,083 yards and 12 touchdowns. His quarterbacks combined to pass for 158-258 (61 percent) and 2,063 yards for 20 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.
Under Nichols, the offense amassed its highest points per game average since 2004, tallying 269 points for the season. The team was just three points shy of eighth place on the program's all-time list. Nichols' spread option attack resulted in Bucknell throwing for more than 2,000 yards for the first time since 2001. In the vaunted running attack, six different student-athletes registered at least 100 yards on the ground, totalling more than 1,600 rushing yards for the season.
Prior to joining Bucknell, Nichols was the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Rhode Island beginning in April 2000. He also coached the quarterbacks and running backs.
In 2006 Coach Nichols earned the Michael Campbell Top Assistant Coach Award by the All-America Football Foundation.
In 2005, Rhode Island ranked third in the nation in rushing and led the Atlantic 10 with 318.6 yards per game along with 31 touchdowns. It was the second-highest rushing total in school history. In 2000, the Rams rang up a then-school record 2,244 yards on the ground. In 2001 they piled up 2,565 yards for a 233.2 average, third highest in the Atlantic 10 and a new school record. The Rams topped that total by amassing 2,904 yards in 2002.
In 2003, the Rams rambled for 4,005 yards on the ground, second most in the nation, while setting the Atlantic 10 record and yet another school rushing mark. The Rams rushed for 3,074 yards in 2004, second most in school annals. This past season, the Rhode Island finished second in the Atlantic 10 in rushing (192.0) while averaging 308.1 yards of offense.
After graduating from Presbyterian College in 1989 with a degree in political science and a minor in physical education, Nichols began his coaching career on the Blue Hose sideline in 1990. As an assistant coach, he worked with the quarterbacks and running backs while serving dual roles as he was also the director of campus life for the team members.
In July 1992, Nichols started his coaching tenure with Georgia Southern as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. There, he worked with a variety of student-athletes including wide receivers, running backs, defensive ends, kickers and specialists. His responsibilities included assignment of coaches, being in charge of all visits (official and unofficial), evaluations and all NCAA compliance matters. He helped guide the team to the 1993 Southern Conference title and two Division I-AA playoff berths (1993, 1995).
In each of those years, the team won its first-round game before falling to the eventual national champion (Youngstown State and Montana) and finished 10-3. In five years, Nichols helped the Eagles to a 33-15 mark.
Nichols returned to PC in December of 1996 in the same role his had at Georgia Southern. In his return to PC, Nichols coached the wide receivers, kickers and specialists. He helped head coach Daryl Dickey take the Blue Hose from 5-6 in 1997 to 8-3 and 7-4 the next two seasons before taking the job at Rhode Island.
A standout recruiter, Nichols has recruited in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina and South Carolina.
He and his wife, Dee, have an older daughter, Cassie, and twins, Corey and Cameron.